This Hanukkah will be different than all other Hanukkahs for me. I am having knee surgery the week prior, so for a couple of weeks I won’t be able to do most of the things I usually do. This has me strategizing on what are the essential things I must do for my family (and Chai & Home) for the holidays and what things I can leave out or outsource to others. Although Hanukkah certainly doesn’t have the holiday stress that accompanies the High Holidays, here are a few of the most obvious things I’m thinking I can do without.
#1 – Hosting a party
I have a Hanukkah party every year for friends and their kids but this year it will have to go. Even a potluck will be too much to think about so I’m going to instead attend other people’s parties.
#2 – Going to every party
Although I’m fortunate to have been invited to several parties this year, I know that I probably can’t go to all of them. Family and close friends come first, the other parties will get a polite decline as much as I’d like to go to some of them. If possible, I can send the boy and man out as my emissaries and maybe get a little time to myself to boot.
#3 – Making so much food
I know it is a tradition in some families to cook four-times the amount of food than can be consumed by the number of people coming to your party. If you are one of these people, but this year you aren’t up to it, challenge yourself make half the number of dishes. Remember, the goal of party food is to stave off hunger so people can socialize, not make sure everyone doesn’t have to eat for a week.
#4 – Eating everything
There is nothing worse than doing #3 and then feeling like it “can’t go to waste.” If you are compelled to cook an excessive amount, but are worried you are going to eat everything after everyone leaves, go ahead and send people home with take-out boxes. My brother does this at Thanksgiving and it’s a genius way to get rid of all the food while making sure it doesn’t go to waste.
#5 – Buying that expensive gift
Don’t ever feel pressure to get anyone an expensive gift. Well, maybe yes if you are in the doghouse and it is for your spouse, but everyone else no…especially a child. Like I was always told and now I say to my own kid: disappointment builds character.
#6 – Making everything by scratch
There is no shame in taking a little cheat when you need to with regards to cooking. Although I love baking, desserts and baked gifts are prime targets to buy instead. The second one is definitely latkes. Trader Joe Potato Pancakes are certified kosher and don’t make the house smell of grease either.
#7 – Eating that candy gift
If you received some candy or other food gift you need to separate yourself from, regift it to someone who comes over or take it to work and let your coworkers feast on it. If you have to take drastic measures, toss it but don’t feel guilty – it is Shmirat HaGuf.
#8 – Work every day
I love not having to ask the boss for time off, but sometimes having your own business is like the worst boss of all. I hardly ever take time off but this Hanukkah I’m definitely taking a sickie (or two or three). Did you know the average American leaves paid days off on the table each year? Don’t be that person. Need a break…take a break. The work will be there when you get back.
With all the fun traditions to carry on and the holiday commitments we make sometimes it is hard to remember that the only real mitzvah of Hanukkah is publicizing the lighting of the menorah. That’s it. Is there anything you wish you could give up this year?